Catholic Values Column: Ecce Agnus Dei


“Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

I don’t know about you, but those words pierce me every time I hear them during Holy Mass. I can’t really explain it, but when the priest holds the now-consecrated host over the chalice containing Jesus’ Most Precious Blood, chills run down my spine.

I am face-to-face with Our Lord in that moment, and I am struck with the question, “Who am I that I should have this encounter with my Savior?”

Really, who am I? I am a sinner, no better than anyone else, and sometimes, a little worse. Who am I that the Lord of heaven and earth would come to me and fill my soul with his grace?

This is why the Sacred Liturgy, mystery of mysteries, has always fascinated me in a special way. The hymns, the incense, the prayers and intercessions, all beautiful by themselves. But together … wow. All directed to God, they bring us into an entirely different dimension of our existence.

The Mass is what makes us Catholics. It is where man encounters God to be fed the everlasting bread. All of our Christian life flows from the Mass. Each aspect of our life should be evidence of our participation in the Mass.

Despite it all, sometimes it’s hard to pay attention during Mass.

Maybe it’s something that happened before Mass, or something you saw that triggered a whole train of thought to divert your attention away from the Mass. Other times, we feel as if we’re just going through the motions. Whatever it is, it happens because we’re humans. I know because I have a hard time with this, too.

When it does happen, however, it is important that we immediately and intentionally turn our attention back toward the Lord. Spending another moment away from him by dwelling on the time we have missed just makes our loss even greater.

The encounter with the divine during the Sacred Liturgy is real. Every gesture and word we utter is a partaking in this heavenly sacrifice and so we must take great care to give the greatest reverence, the greatest love we have in order to fully participate as we are called to in our lay state.

As Catholics, we believe that the consecrated bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ. We know that it is not through any of our own doing that we have this privilege, but rather through God’s unwavering and eternal love for us that he willed to come to us in such a special manner.

Knowing that we do not deserve this can be a stark realization. It leads us back to ponder the previous question of “Who am I that I should have this encounter with my Savior?”

Really, the answer is still the same. We are all sinners who come to worship our God and glorify his name. It is his love that saves us, his real presence that is the light in our darkness.

When the priest utters those words, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world,” it is again a humble reminder of who is in our midst. Recognizing our God in this sacrament, let us carry forth and allow his love for us to permeate every word, every thought and every deed of ours, all the days of our lives.